We've all had that colleague, classmate, or friend. You know the kind. The one who can suck the energy out of a meeting with one eye-roll, comment or grumble.
Either way, we have to deal with them and get our work done, just the same. I'm going to help you navigate the choppy waters of the negative people you'll encounter along the way.
Point out the high notes.
At some point when you were dealing with your negative person there may have been a relationship high note. It will help to refer to your shared personal high note.
Maybe you brought a project in on deadline, or shared a harrowing travel experience. The more you can associate yourself with this positive experience in their mind, the better off you'll be.
Don't take it personally.
Many times when people are negative it's because there is something else going on at home. Perhaps an ill spouse, parenting issues, marital troubles, financial issues etc.
We've all got our proverbial "bag of rocks." Now isn't the time to press. It's the time to be respectful, and try to see the world from their perspective.
Listen - pause before you respond.
If someone is negative toward you at work, they may be expressing frustration. Stop pushing, and listen. Hear their new ideas. Hear their frustrations. Sometimes people are naturally pessimistic, I get it. Other times they may be expressing simple frustrations that you can work together to resolve.
Deflect and roll with the punches - self-deprecate.
If they lash out at you, just roll with it. If you can give yourself an added dig, you'll diffuse the situation. If you can push the self deprecation over the top, it can help them hear just how silly their negativity sounds.
Celebrate their idiosyncrasies.
Point out how unique their perspective is and how much you appreciate it. The reality is that even if you don't like hearing it, we all need someone to play devil's advocate from time to time.
Stop smiling. Yes, seriously.
In high level human relationships quick/fake smiles don't work. Your big toothy grin will not convert your curmudgeon into a picture of positivity. It will most likely have the opposite effect.
If you're female, this is even more important. Women who are slower to smile are viewed as more credible.
Think of it this way, when they do make you smile, it will be a genuine and warm smile. They'll appreciate it that much more, and it will impact your relationship positively.
Stop Staring them down. Good eye contact isn't always the answer.
Intense eye contact can turn people off. Sometimes those who are already in a heightened negative state can view intense eye contact as threatening or disrespectful.
Keep eye contact, but soften your eyes. Thinking of someone you love may help you.
You can agree with them, and lock into the conversation. But studies have shown that those who nod too much in social interactions are seen as less intelligent.